`Dirty' Bears are bad guys tomorrow, not the Colts

February 03, 2007|By GREGORY KANE

What's that phrase National Football League officials use after they've checked out a play that's been challenged? Oh, yeah: "after further review."

Well, after further review, I've found I still have some Colts-fan DNA lingering in my body.

No disrespect to my beloved Ravens, but I find myself ready to whoop it up for the Indy Colts (or the Baltimore Colts Playing in Indianapolis, as I fondly call them) when they face the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl tomorrow. I just can't watch the guys in that Colt blue and those horseshoe helmets and root against them and for -- the Bears?

Sorry. Can't do it. Won't do it. Now I know some folks around these parts refuse to root again for the Colts, ever. Hatred of Robert Irsay -- and his little son, too -- is supposed to take precedence over all other hatreds.

Well, that might be fine for the rest of you. There's still enough Baltimore Colts fan left in me to despise the Bears. I hate them now. I hated them when the Colts were in Baltimore. I'll hate them forever.

I hate the very ground the Chicago Bears walk on. And that goes for their little fans, too.

The roots of this hatred can be partly explained by Mike Klingaman's article in the Thursday edition of The Sun. "Colts-Bears clash made lasting memories in 1960," the headline read. Neither the headline nor the story indicated what else was said about that contest.

It's been called "the body-bag game."

Klingaman's article quoted former Colts offensive lineman Dick Szymanski as saying, "Nobody played dirty; we just beat each other up."

Nobody played dirty? Was there any other way the Bears of the George Halas era could play?

Now I won't say the Bears invented dirty football. They simply perfected it. The Bears were the Darth Vaders of pro football before there even was a Darth Vader. They were the Oakland Raiders before the Raiders existed. You could almost see the dirt oozing off these guys.

In Klingaman's article, former Colts defensive end Gino Marchetti said one Bear lineman hit him high and another hit him low, trying to take out his knees. Marchetti said these two hoodlums told him that Halas, the head coach and owner of the Chicago Bears, told them to do it.

Excuse me, but isn't that known as "dirty football"?

Klingaman's article also revealed that Halas offered $500 to any Bears player who knocked Unitas out of the game. Which brings me to what happened five years later, when I really started to hate the Bears.

It was the second Colts-Bears game of the 1965 season. In the first game, the Colts had beaten the Bears in Chicago by a score of 26-21. Unitas tossed a pass to split end Raymond Berry in the end zone. Berry snared the pass, which a Bears defensive back quickly knocked out of his hands.

The officials correctly called it a touchdown -- which turned out to be the winning score -- for the Colts. The Bears protested that the pass was incomplete, but they had to know they were on shaky ground. They whined anyway, and they vowed revenge when they got to Baltimore.

Part of that revenge was two Bears defensive linemen taking out one of Unitas' knees. The Bears claimed it was a clean hit, but I saw photos of one of the Bears clearly headed for Unitas' knee. Maybe they meant that "for the despicably dirty Chicago Bears, it was a relatively clean hit by comparison."

I've got to believe Halas put out another hit on Unitas. I'm sure the guy didn't get religion over those intervening five years.

The Colts had a 6-2 record after beating the Bears in the 1960 "body-bag game." The Hosses had four games left and didn't win one. They didn't win the Western Conference either and couldn't repeat as NFL champions.

One of those losses was to a so-so Detroit Lions team. The Colts led, 15-13, when Lions quarterback Earl Morrall (remember him -- the guy who blew it for us in Super Bowl III?) hit a Lions receiver who ran the length of the field for the winning touchdown.

I don't remember the receiver's name. But former Colts defensive tackle Art Donovan wisecracked that it took the guy about 10 days to run a 40-yard dash.

After "body-bag II" in 1965, the Unitas-less Colts lost to the Green Bay Packers the next week and again to the Packers in a playoff game two weeks later. I trust this account will put my disdain for the Bears in a little perspective and explain the outcome I'm hoping for tomorrow.

I want the Colts to bury the Bears. I want them to bury the Bears deep. I want the Colts to beat the Bears so bad that it'll take 50 years for the Chicago franchise to recover. And I want the score to be a whole lot-to-not nearly enough.

Root against the Colts and for the Bears just because some guy named Irsay happens to own the Colts?

I'm sorry. I don't hate the Irsays quite that much.

But I can't say the same about those Bears.

greg.kane@baltsun.com

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